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Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission

United States Supreme Court
138 S.Ct. 1718 (No. 16-111) (2018)

Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission


Charlie Craig and Dave Mullins (the couple) (plaintiffs) asked Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. (defendant), to create a special cake celebrating the couple's same-sex wedding. Phillips refused because he held sincere religious objections to same-sex marriage. Phillips offered to sell generic cakes to the couple. The couple filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Commission (defendant), triggering the commission's multilevel review. The couple claimed Phillips violated Colorado's law barring discrimination against customers on the basis of sexual orientation. Phillips argued that forcing him to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple would violate his First Amendment rights to free speech and religious freedom. At the same time, the commission allowed three other bakers to refuse William Jack's requests for a cake expressing religious opposition to same-sex marriage. In the final stage of the commission's proceedings in the Phillips case, several commissioners implied that religious objections should never influence a public businessman's decision to withhold services. One commissioner disparaged religion and noted its historic role in upholding discrimination, intolerance, and even genocide. The commission ruled for the couple. The Colorado Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling, distinguishing the other cake cases on the grounds the commission found the customers' requests offensive. The Colorado Supreme Court declined review. Phillips appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Kennedy, J.)

Concurrence (Thomas, J.)

Concurrence (Gorsuch, J.)

Concurrence (Kagan, J.)

Dissent (Ginsburg, J.)

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